With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve.

THE BIG IDEA: Following President Trump’s tweets can feel like watching a short man drive a Hummer. His fragile ego is always looking to overcompensate. The latest manifestation of that is downright Napoleonic.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Monday that the United States is “within the range of our nuclear strike and a nuclear button is always on the desk of my office.”

Twelve minutes after Fox News highlighted that quote last night, Trump tweeted: “Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

This isn’t the first time Trump has made a thinly veiled allusion to his manhood. During the Republicans primaries, he gave Marco Rubio the nickname “Little Marco” and the Florida senator eagerly joined him in the gutter. “He's like 6'2", which is why I don't understand why his hands are the size of someone who is 5'2’,” Rubio said during a rally. “Have you seen his hands? And you know what they say about men with small hands!”

Trump brought up the insult during a debate the next night, holding up his hands for the audience to inspect: “Are they small hands? He referred to my hands: ‘If they are small, something else must be small.’ I guarantee you there is no problem. I guarantee you!”

Our in-house fact checkers tabulate that Trump has made 1,950 false or misleading claims over the past 347 days. Many are exaggerations about the hugeness of something he’s taking credit for. For example, Trump has repeated the falsehood that he’s passing “the biggest tax cut ever” at least 53 times, even though his own Treasury Department’s data shows it is the eighth biggest.

 “I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A.,” Trump told the New York Times last week, one of 24 misleading or false claims he made during a 30-minute interview. 

-- There are many other areas where the 71-year-old has made clear he believes size matters, such as:

His bank account: Trump has long exaggerated his net worth and business success. Rhona Graff, the president’s longtime personal assistant, told Crain’s New York Business last year that the Trump Organization had $9.5 billion in annual revenue. But financial disclosure forms indicate that the company only generates between $600 million and $700 million in annual revenue, less than one-tenth what they claim. The Trump Organization moved from third to 40th on Crain’s list of the largest privately held companies in New York this year, based on public filings.

His buildings: Trump Tower is only 58 floors, but Trump and his company continue to falsely claim that there are 68. He says that his personal penthouse there is 33,000 square feet, but Forbes checked land records and it’s only 10,996. During an interview on Sept. 11, 2001, Trump told a New York television station that the collapse of the World Trade Center meant that this property at 40 Wall Street was no longer the second-tallest building in downtown Manhattan. “Now it’s the tallest,” he said.

His crowd sizes: During a phone call on the Saturday morning after he became president, Trump personally ordered the acting director of the National Park Service to produce additional photographs of the crowds on the Mall. Trump also expressed anger over a retweet sent from the agency’s account, in which side-by-side photographs showed far fewer people at his swearing-in than had shown up to see Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. During the campaign, he drew huge crowds but still routinely inflated the numbers.

His 2016 victory: Trump has said he had “the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan.” In fact, Obama won more electoral votes in both of his elections. So did Bill Clinton in 1996 and 1992. And George H.W. Bush in 1988. Trump’s electoral college victory actually ranks 46th in 58 elections. 

-- The latest from the Peninsula: “South Korea announced that a long-suspended cross-border hotline with North Korea reopened on Wednesday to pave the way for official talks between the two sides about sending a delegation from the North to next month’s Winter Olympics in the South,” Simon Denyer reports. “North Korea had earlier in the day announced the channel would be reopened, marking an easing of tensions … U.S. officials said they doubt Kim’s sincerity but declared that Washington would not stand in the way, nor would it allow the North to drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States.”

-- North Korean dictators have been insulting American presidents for seven decades, but Trump is the first to let their taunts get under his skin. He had scaled back his “fire and fury” rhetoric since the summer at the behest of his foreign policy advisers. Today he’s back to calling the 33-year-old “Rocket Man.” (Kim’s preferred insult for Trump is “dotard.”)

When Hillary Clinton said during the 2016 campaign that Trump could be easily baited by foreign leaders, he shot back on ABC: “I have one of the great temperaments. I have a winning temperament!”

-- Is there a method to the madness? The most charitable explanation for Trump’s taunts is that he’s embracing Richard Nixon’s “madman theory” of foreign policy. The idea here is that North Korea is more likely to make concessions if it believes that the threat of United States military action is credible because Trump is crazy enough to use nuclear weapons.

To understand why it’s dangerous for Trump to tweet this way toward Kim, it’s worth revisiting op-eds from this summer by the German Marshall Fund’s Laura Rosenberger (a former director for North Korea policy on the National Security Council) and the Hoover Institution’s Kori Schake (who has worked for Republicans at State, DOD and the White House).

“I guess the president regards this as a show of strength. But as everybody who's ever been in a first-grade playground recognizes, it's usually the person who's most aggressively pounding their chest that is, in fact, the weak one on the playground,” Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), a member of the House intelligence committee, said last night on CNN.

-- Susan Glasser has a meaty piece in Politico Magazine about Trump’s foreign policy naivete. “It’s worse than you think,” she argues. Two memorable nuggets:

1. From Trump’s September dinner in New York with leaders of four Latin American countries on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly: “‘Rex tells me you don’t want me to use the military option in Venezuela,’ the president told the gathered leaders, according to an account offered by an attendee soon after the dinner. ‘Is that right? Are you sure?’ Everyone said they were sure. But they were rattled. War with Venezuela, as absurd as that seemed, was clearly still on Trump’s mind. … By the time the dinner was over, the leaders were in shock, and not just over the idle talk of armed conflict …

A former senior U.S. official with whom I spoke was briefed by ministers from three of the four countries that attended the dinner. ‘Without fail, they just had wide eyes about the entire engagement,’ the former official told me. Even if few took his martial bluster about Venezuela seriously, Trump struck them as uninformed about their issues and dangerously unpredictable, asking them to expend political capital on behalf of a U.S. that no longer seemed a reliable partner. ‘The word they all used was: ‘This guy is insane.’

2. An unnamed senior European official recounted a “frightening” conversation with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has an international portfolio that includes trying to negotiate Middle East peace: “Kushner was ‘very dismissive’ about the role of international institutions and alliances and uninterested in the European’s recounting of how closely the United States had stood together with Western Europe since World War II. ‘He told me, ‘I’m a businessman, and I don’t care about the past. Old allies can be enemies, or enemies can be friends.’ So, the past doesn’t count,’ the official recalled. ‘I was taken aback.’”

-- Twitter was consumed overnight by Trump’s saber-rattling: 

From a former senior staffer on the National Security Council under George W. Bush:

From the founder of Vox:

“A Twitter spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday night that Trump's North Korea tweets do not amount to a ‘specific threat,’ and thus do not warrant disciplinary action,” Business Insider reports. “The spokesperson pointed to Twitter's policy on violent threats and glorification of violence: ‘You may not make specific threats of violence or wish for the serious physical harm, death, or disease of an individual or group of people,’ the rule states.” 

From a reporter for the Daily Beast:

A Johns Hopkins professor who advised Condi Rice when she was secretary of state:

Virginia’s senator and Clinton’s running mate told POTUS to cut it out:

A Democratic congressman from California touted a bill he’s introduced that would stop Trump from preemptively attacking Pyongyang:

Richard Nixon’s White House counsel trained his ire on the congressional Republicans who are enabling Trump:

The president of the Ploughshares Fund worried about ripple effects:

The president of the liberal Center for American Progress had to reassure her daughter:

A former GOP congressman who has a syndicated radio show noted that the Democratic approach failed:

And a presidential historian offered a timely flashback:

-- Finally, for what it’s worth, there is not actually a button Trump can press to launch nukes. There is, however, a button that lets him order Diet Cokes

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-- A monster storm is slated to hammer the East Coast this week — pummeling the region with a nasty combination of ice, snow and a record-breaking chill that could form one of the most intense weather systems in decades. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “By Thursday, the exploding storm will, in many ways, resemble a winter hurricane, battering easternmost New England with potentially damaging winds in addition to blinding snow. Forecasters are expecting the storm to become a so-called ‘bomb cyclone’ because its pressure is predicted to fall so fast, an indicator of explosive strengthening. … Winds [will howl at] 30 to 50 mph along the coast.”

  • “Some computer models are projecting a minimum central air pressure of below 950 millibars at its peak, which would be nearly unheard of for this part of the world outside of a hurricane,” wrote Mashable’s Andrew Freedman. “For comparison, Hurricane Sandy had a minimum central pressure of about 946 millibars … in 2012.”

-- Mid-Atlantic residents should brace for a drop in temperatures ranging from 20 to 40 degrees — leaving much of the region in the single digits. Forecasters have cautioned that gusting winds could make those areas feel 10 to 20 degrees colder.

-- The NSA is bleeding highly skilled employees as they seek better paying jobs amid sagging morale. Ellen Nakashima and Aaron Gregg report: “Since 2015, the NSA has lost several hundred hackers, engineers and data scientists, according to current and former U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter. The potential impact on national security is significant, they said. … The people who have left were responsible for collecting and analyzing the intelligence that goes into the president’s daily briefing. Their work also included monitoring a broad array of subjects including the Islamic State, Russian and North Korean hackers, and analyzing the intentions of foreign governments, and they were responsible for protecting the classified networks that carry such sensitive information.”


  1. The Trump administration accused Iran of suppressing communication among anti-government demonstrators, calling on leaders to respect the right to peaceful protest. Officials are also “laying groundwork” for new international sanctions against Tehran to target the alleged human rights abuses. (Carol Morello and Anne Gearan)
  2. The protests could give Trump an opening to cancel the Iran nuclear deal later this month. Trump must decide in less than two weeks whether to continue waiving economic sanctions against Iran, and some officials see the unrest as an opportunity for drastic action. (Politico)
  3. At least 48 people died after a bus in Peru fell off a cliff and onto a rocky beach below. The narrow stretch of highway where the fatal wreck occurred is known as the “Devil’s Curve.” (AP)
  4. Canadian Joshua Boyle, who was held in Taliban captivity for five years, has been charged with 15 criminal offenses. The alleged crimes — which include sexual assault, uttering death threats and misleading police — all took place after Boyle’s return to Canada with his family in October. (Alan Freeman
  5. FEMA has broadened churches’ access to disaster-relief funds, announcing that religious institutions will now qualify as “community centers.” FEMA’s rules change comes four months after Trump declared that churches were being “treated unfairly” by the government. (Politico)
  6. Roy Moore’s “Jewish attorney” earned national attention last month when Moore's wife, Kayla, cited him at a campaign rally to refute charges of anti-Semitism. In an interview with The Washington Post’s Eli Rosenberg, Richard Jaffe said he was both stunned and “disgusted” by Mrs. Moore’s very public shout out — especially since he spent months campaigning for his friend of 30 years — the Democrat, Doug Jones. 
  7. Documents recently filed with the Irish government show that Trump’s golf course in Doonbeg lost over $2 million last year. Its revenue actually increased by 30 percent, but the course still lost money for the third year in a row. (David A. Fahrenthold)
  8. Longtime NBC News personality Hoda Kotb was named the permanent co-anchor of the “Today” show, replacing Matt Lauer, who was ousted last month in the wake of multiple sexual misconduct allegations. Network officials said Kotb will continue to co-host “Today’s” fourth hour alongside Kathie Lee Gifford. (CNNMoney)
  9. A D.C.-area woman was arrested after she set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the daughter of a slain co-worker — and then allegedly pocketed the funds for herself. Authorities said the daughter received only $9,000 from the fund, which netted nearly $40,000. (Peter Hermann)
  10. YouTube celebrity Logan Paul apologized for filming and posting footage of an apparent suicide victim, who he found in Japan’s infamous “Suicide Forest.” Critics immediately seized on the distasteful video, saying Paul treated the forest as a “haunted house” to generate views. (Abby Ohlheiser)
  11. Country singer Carrie Underwood revealed she needed 40 to 50 stitches in her face after a November fall. Underwood wrote in a letter to her fans, “Now, here we are 7 weeks later and, even though I've had the best people helping me, I'm still healing and not quite looking the same.” (E! News


-- Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) announced his retirement from the Senate after seven terms, clearing the way for Mitt Romney to potentially take his seat. Sean Sullivan and Michael Scherer report: “Hatch, who is 83 and a close ally of President Trump, decided to step down despite strong encouragement from the president to run for an eighth term in the Senate. … His decision triggers an open contest in heavily Republican Utah — but it also establishes Romney, a frequent Trump critic, as an instant front-runner. And it sets the stage for Romney to play a very different role in the Senate than Hatch has, potentially complicating the president’s already rocky relationship with the GOP on Capitol Hill.”

-- In a Facebook post, Romney thanked Hatch for his public service but avoided addressing whether he would jump into the race to replace him:

-- “However, Republicans with a close eye on the race said they have seen signs for a while that Romney’s allies have been gearing up for a campaign,” Sean and Michael note. “In fact, by the time Hatch made his announcement Tuesday, talk was already underway in GOP circles about who would staff a Romney campaign and when he might officially jump in. For instance, Matt Waldrip, a longtime Romney adviser, is widely expected to be his campaign manager[.] … Romney enjoys deep family roots and strong institutional backing in Utah, as well as a powerful national donor network that he could quickly activate.”

-- The former Massachusetts governor’s Twitter profile also pointed to a potential run. In the hours after Hatch’s announcement, Romney changed his location from “Massachusetts” to “Holladay, UT.” (Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur

-- If Romney were to seek and win Hatch’s seat, Trump would lose a key Senate ally and gain a big rival, Amber Phillips writes. “It’s only a slight overstatement to say Hatch is the reason Trump ended his first year with a major legislative victory. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Hatch was instrumental in getting Republicans' tax bill to Trump's desk by Christmas, as the president demanded. … Contrast that with whom could be replacing Hatch[.] … None other than Trump’s most long-standing critic in the entire party, [Romney], is reportedly considering a Senate run. During the campaign, Romney, fashioning himself leader of a Republican Party increasingly being hijacked by Trump, said some incredible things about Trump.”

  • Aaron Blake compiled some of Romney’s most notable insults toward Trump, including calling the then-candidate “very, very not smart” on foreign policy.

-- Trump reportedly called Romney last month to sniff out whether he was planning a campaign. Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reports: “Trump was ostensibly trying to ease tensions between the two men, after a trip dominated by news reports that he was courting [Hatch] to run for reelection in order to keep Romney from seeking the seat. But the 10-minute chat only further raised suspicions within Romney’s inner circle that the president was out to stymie the former GOP presidential nominee’s political ambitions. The president told Romney that he knew he was thinking about running. But according to one person familiar with the conversation, … Trump didn’t press the former Massachusetts governor about his thinking or ask why he might be interested in being a senator. Romney’s aides came away convinced the president was trying to suss out Romney’s intentions and position himself as an ally, when he’d been anything but.”

-- But Romney could face other enemies if he runs — namely Steve Bannon and his Breitbart machine. Callum Borchers writes: “The good news for Bannon is that expectations would be low for any candidate running against Romney, who is highly popular in Utah. … Utah is a great state for Romney and a bad one for Bannon, which means that the former White House chief strategist would be under little pressure. If he could field a candidate who could avoid embarrassment and make Romney sweat — even a little — Bannon might be able to use the Utah race as a big stage to take some shots at the GOP leadership.”

-- The GOP retirement problem: Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, announced his retirement yesterday, bringing to 18 the number of House Republicans retiring in 2018, according to The Atlantic's retirement tracker (by contrast, 7 House Democrats are heading for the exits). Nine more House Republicans are running for other office.

Mike DeBonis has more on the Hill implications: “Had he returned next year, Shuster would have lost his committee gavel because of House GOP rules that impose a three-term limit for chairmen. He joins three other outgoing House chairmen who have chosen to retire rather than return to the House without a gavel: Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) of the Judiciary Committee, Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) of the Financial Services Committee and Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) of the Science, Space and Technology Committee. … The retirement will end a 46-year run for the Shuster family representing that district. Bud Shuster held the seat from 1973 until he resigned in 2001, setting up a special election won by Bill, his son.”

The Washington Examiner reports that Shuster will spend his final year in the House working with Trump on an infrastructure package. “About a week or so ago I had a private meeting with the president at the White House. Now when I say private meeting, it was the president and I in the Oval Office with his senior advisers and some of my senior people, and we talked about the infrastructure bill. He's very excited. He seems to be ready to go, as we are, and so I think we're going to have a good working relationship as we move forward,” Shuster told Salena Zito. “This is a president who really understands how to build things, how to finance things, and how to get them done on time and under budget.”

-- BUT: Michele Bachmann is reportedly considering a run for Al Franken’s open seat in Minnesota. CNN’s Maegan Vazquez reports: “‘I've had people contact me and urge me to run for that Senate seat,’ Bachmann said. ‘The only reason I would run is for the ability to take these principles into the United States Senate,’ she said, later adding, ‘The question is should it be me? Should it be now? But there's also a price you pay. And the price is bigger than ever because the swamp is so toxic.’” Bachmann added that she would have to ask God whether she was “being called to do this now.”


-- “Inside the White House and the Republican Party, Trump is caught in a thicket of political pressures as he maps out possible requisites for a deal,” Robert Costa, David Nakamura and Ashley Parker report. “Where Trump ultimately lands — and whether he could accept any border-security provisions other than a physical wall — is likely to consume Capitol Hill in the coming weeks. How the president proceeds could shape the contours of the upcoming midterm elections, where most centrist Republicans are eager to avoid angering voters in states with growing Hispanic populations. But Trump faces a potential revolt on his right, should he be seen by conservative Republicans as working too closely with the Democrats or failing to secure substantial wall funding, which is in part why he keeps signaling his commitment to the wall on Twitter, according to his associates.”

  • Bannon and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), are increasingly urging Trump to stick with the wall. “A person close to Bannon said Tuesday that if Trump does not begin to build the wall this year, his allies on talk radio and television, and at Breitbart News, which Bannon oversees, will ‘freak out.’” Meanwhile, a telling headline on Breitbart’s site blared: “Trump’s Prioritizing DACA Illegal Aliens Breaks with ‘No Amnesty’ Commitment.”
  • “Democratic aides said they took notice when [John Kelly] — and not [Stephen Miller], a border hawk — showed up at a December meeting with leading senators. At times, ‘it’s unclear who we’re even negotiating with in the White House,’ one House Democratic aide said.”

-- Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will gather in Ryan’s office this afternoon to discuss the issue with OMB Director Mick Mulvaney and White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short, according to The Post’s congressional team. 

-- Alternative reality: Trump took to Twitter to accuse Democrats of doing “nothing” to help “dreamers” — claiming the party is “just interested in politics” rather than protecting the program (which he scuttled!). “DACA activists and Hispanics will go hard against Dems, will start ‘falling in love’ with Republicans and their President!” Trump wrote.

-- Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are fine-tuning their list of demands to avoid a government shutdown on Jan. 20. The New York Times’s Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Thomas Kaplan report: “Democratic demands are ambitious, topped by a legislative shield for [‘dreamers.’] They are also pushing for broader intervention in the opioid epidemic, a boost for veterans’ care, disaster relief to hurricane-stricken areas, and financing for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. … But Democrats face their own challenges. Senate Democrats running for re-election this year in states won by Mr. Trump are likely not eager for a government shutdown, worried that they could be blamed, just as Republicans were in 2013[.]”


-- Trump lashed out at the Justice Department as a “deep state” apparatus and urged officials to “act” on former FBI director James Comey. He also suggested longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin face jail time for allegedly forwarding emails containing classified information. Trump’s tweet comes days after the State Department posted thousands of Abedin’s emails online, which were captured on the computer of her ex-husband, Anthony Weiner. “While leaders at the Justice Department answer to Trump, that institution has traditionally enjoyed a measure of independence from the president — especially when it comes to particular criminal investigations,” David Nakamura and Matt Zapotosky report. “A president meddling in such investigations and suggesting that someone working for a former political rival face ‘Jail!’ is considered a serious breach of normal protocol; even former attorney general Michael Mukasey, a frequent Clinton critic, said Trump’s campaign-trail idea to have a special prosecutor reinvestigate and jail Clinton ‘would be like a banana republic.’”

-- “If you've got a sense of deja vu, it's because Trump has sentenced plenty of people to his own personal jail,” The Fix’s Aaron Blake writes. “Yet the man who asserted last week that he has total control of the Justice Department has not seen fit to act on that power, meaning that many of the following people have thus far been spared.” (In case you’re keeping track, here’s a list of 14 people who Trump has suggested should be behind bars.)

-- Former acting attorney general Sally Yates, who Trump fired when she refused to defend his travel ban, said Trump's rhetoric is “dangerous”:


-- The founders of Fusion GPS penned a New York Times op-ed demanding congressional Republicans release their full testimony in the Russia probes. “Three congressional committees have heard over 21 hours of testimony from our firm,” Glenn R. Simpson and Peter Fritsch write in the Times. “In those sessions, we toppled the far right’s conspiracy theories and explained how The Washington Free Beacon and the Clinton campaign — the Republican and Democratic funders of our Trump research — separately came to hire us in the first place. … Republicans have refused to release full transcripts of our firm’s testimony, even as they selectively leak details to media outlets on the far right. It’s time to share what our company told investigators.”

-- Trump ally Roger Stone disclosed his recent foreign lobbying activity. LegiStorm reports: “[Stone] has indicated that he secretly signed a client in May of last year to lobby on security interests in Somalia as the U.S. military sent troops there. Stone filed a lobbying disclosure about the work on Dec. 29, although it indicates the effective date of registration was May 1. That makes it more than 6 months late after the 45-day window expired in which he was required to register. The late disclosure occurred even as federal agents are showing intense interest in the financial connections that Trump advisers have to foreign interests.”

-- The New York Post’s Richard Johnson reports on a “witness who recently testified” before the federal grand jury in Robert Mueller’s investigation. The witness described the jury as resembling “a Bernie Sanders rally” or “a Black Lives Matter rally in Berkeley.” Johnson writes: “Of the 20 jurors, 11 are African Americans and two were wearing ‘peace T-shirts,’ the witness said. ‘There was only one white male in the room, and he was a prosecutor.’ Mueller was not present. … My source said, ‘That room isn’t a room where POTUS gets a fair shake.’”

-- One of The Post’s White House reporters responded to Johnson’s story:

The New York Times's Maggie Haberman replied:

But a former official for Barack Obama's Justice Department was more critical of the reporting:


Sen.-elect Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who will get sworn in today. He will be the only Democratic senator with an African American chief of staff:

Trump unleashed a battery of tweets last night. In one, he took credit for the lack of air travel deaths in 2017:

A former Clinton White House aide pointed this out:

Trump threatened to withdraw funding from Palestinians just a day after issuing the same threat to Pakistan:

Trump also attacked the New York Times:

And he later went after the entire “Fake News Media”:

From one of the Times's political reporters:

A former Clinton campaign speechwriter also slammed Trump's attacks on Huma Abedin: 

A linguistics professor at Berkeley looked at what motivates Trump’s tweets:

On a more positive note, Trump thanked Sen. Orrin Hatch for his decades of service:

From Utah's other GOP senator:

From the Republican governor of Utah:

But Democrats were more disparaging of Hatch's legacy. From the vice president of the liberal Center for American Progress:

From Hillary Clinton's former deputy press secretary:

A reporter for the Guardian provided this fun fact:

Haberman commented on the Trump administration's demand that the Iranian government unblock social media platforms amid the protests:

A freelance journalist analyzed potential conflicts of interest at Trump's D.C. hotel:

After a Times reporter retweeted a story on Anthony Scaramucci telling friends he might return to the White House, the Mooch took aim at the reporter:

And Vogel fired right back:

Michele Bachmann received a response from “God” on whether she should run for Al Franken's Senate seat:


-- The Intercept, “The Biggest Secret: My Life as a New York Times Reporter in the Shadow of the War on Terror,” by James Risen: “My case was part of a broader crackdown on reporters and whistleblowers that had begun during the presidency of George W. Bush and continued far more aggressively under the Obama administration[.] … After the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration began asking the press to kill stories more frequently. They did it so often that I became convinced the administration was invoking national security to quash stories that were merely politically embarrassing.”

-- The Atlantic, “The Future of Trumpism Is on Campus,” by Elaine Godfrey: “[T]he civil war within the Republican Party is also being waged in campus multipurpose rooms across the country. Ahead of the 2016 presidential election, College Republicans wrestled with whether — and how much — to embrace Trump. … More than a year later, things still aren’t back to normal on the quad. In many ways, the debate over Trump taking place among College Republicans mirrors the national intra-party one: It pits young conservatives who view Trump as a distraction from long-held conservative goals of shrinking government and defending family values against those who see Trump’s presidency and distinctive message as a much-needed adjustment of the party’s priorities.”

-- Vanity Fair, “‘Oh My God, This is So F---Ed Up’: Inside Silicon Valley’s Secretive, Orgiastic Dark Side,” by Emily Chang: “[G]uests and hosts include powerful first-round investors, well-known entrepreneurs, and top executives. Some of them are the titans of the Valley, household names. The female guests have different qualifications. If you are attractive, willing, and (usually) young, you needn’t worry about your résumé or bank account. … In some scenarios, the ratio of women to wealthy men is roughly two to one, so the men have more than enough women to choose from. ‘You know when it’s that kind of party,’ one male tech investor told me. ‘At normal tech parties, there are hardly any women. At these kinds of party, there are tons of them.’”


“Sheriff David Clarke temporarily blocked on Twitter after violating terms of service,” from CNN: “Former Milwaukee Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr., a vocal surrogate for President Donald Trump on the campaign trail, was temporarily blocked from tweeting after Twitter users' complaints alerted the company that three of his messages violated the terms of service, CNN has learned. Clarke was placed in read-only mode until he deleted three tweets that seemed to call for violence against members of the media. In one of them, which has since been deleted, Clarke told his followers, ‘When LYING LIB MEDIA makes up FAKE NEWS to smear me, the ANTIDOTE is to go right at them. Punch them in the nose & MAKE THEM TASTE THEIR OWN BLOOD. Nothing gets a bully like LYING LIB MEDIA’S attention better than to give them a taste of their own blood #neverbackdown.’”



“Seen but rarely heard: How Melania Trump is approaching the public role of first lady,” from Krissah Thompson: “While still largely avoiding public speaking, she has spent her first year communicating her support for her husband with her silent presence and a stream of curated images and short statements posted on social media. … The relatively quiet first lady is very different from her husband when it comes to their public communication styles, said Jennifer Golbeck, an associate professor at the University of Maryland at College Park and an expert in social media. If he is the Twitter president, she is the Instagram first lady. … On the whole, Trump’s reserved approach seems to be working. First ladies are typically more popular than their husbands, and a Gallup poll released in December showed that her favorable rating is 54 percent, up 17 points since January.”



Trump has lunch today with Pence, Rex Tillerson and Jim Mattis.


“Make no mistake about it: Mitt Romney is going to speak his mind if he thinks the president is saying or doing something silly,” former congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said of Romney’s possible Senate bid. “He’s going to express it.” (Sean Sullivan and Michael Scherer)



-- It will be cold again today before becoming downright frigid starting tomorrow. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Partly sunny skies and light winds from the south-southeast provide what could be the warmest day of the week. We’re still plenty cold, with morning temperatures rising through the teens. But we might as well try to enjoy afternoon highs in the low-to-mid-30s, before the next punishing Arctic blast arrives.”

-- The Capitals beat the Hurricanes 5-4 in overtime. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)

-- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has caught flak from state Democrats for a 2014 donation from a major poultry supplier to the RGA, made amid a debate on new pollution roles for the industry. Fenit Nirappil reports: “Hogan, a longtime critic of what he saw as overly burdensome regulations, campaigned against rules for reducing pollution associated with chicken manure, which he believed would decimate the poultry industry. After he won, he halted strict limits introduced by his Democratic predecessor and rolled out his own regulations, which restricted use of chicken manure while providing some farms extra time to adjust. The donation from poultry producer Mountaire … has Maryland Democrats accusing Hogan of impropriety[.]”

-- Geophysicists are surveying James Madison’s residence, Montpelier, for evidence of a slave cemetery. Peter Brannen reports: “At Madison’s death, about 120 men, women and children were enslaved at Montpelier. … Now at Montpelier, spurred by an active group of slave descendants, the work of [the geophysicists] is part of a larger effort to reclaim this place, not just as the home of James and Dolley Madison, but to six generations of enslaved people — people who built Montpelier, lived here, toiled here, loved here, died here and grieved here.”

-- Two teenagers from Bethesda who killed themselves have drawn attention to the nation’s rising rate of teen suicide. (Donna St. George)


Stephen Colbert mocked Trump for crediting himself with 2017's lack of air travel deaths:

The White House press secretary said Trump was “very sad” about Hatch's retirement:

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley applauded the anti-regime protesters in Iran:

The GOP-aligned American Action Network is launching a $2 million television ad campaign to promote the recently passed tax plan and thank lawmakers who voted for it:

(Mike DeBonis has more on the ad campaign, which will run in 23 districts.)

Niagara Falls partially froze amid this week's frigid termperatures:

And a tiny wombat who owes her life to veterinarians in Australia is now thriving: